By Blair Kerkhoff
Postgame thoughts on Kansas’ 67-49 victory over Kansas State…
As much credit as Travis Releford deserved for his scoring and rebounding (16 and 11), not enough was given to his first-half defense against Rodney McGruder, K-State’s most skilled perimeter scorer. Releford’s blanket defense not only kept McGruder from getting many open looks but also from catching the ball and allowing the Wildcats to run offense.
* Loved what Bill Self had to say about Releford on his radio post game: “He has the best old man’s game of anybody I’ve seen for a young guy. Just think about the when he’s over 40 and playing, he’s going to dominate. He drives in there and reverse pivots and does things that look awkward.”
They may look awkward to younger folks, but Releford’s game reminds me of a player from the 1970s, more fundamentally sound and less flashy. Releford isn’t wildly athletic, but his game as developed nicely in four years and he’s become an important part of the lineup.
* Tyshawn Taylor can be careless with the ball is the understatement of the year. But Martavious Irving played excellent defense and bothered Taylor like no other defender I’ve seen this season. I thought Irving was the Wildcats’ best player in the game.
* A twitter comment on the atmosphere at Allen Fieldhouse last brought several responses from those who believed the old barn should be filled even with students on holiday break with its proximity to KC/Johnson County/Topeka. Agreed.
But Bramlage should be filled or close to it for Saturday’s Missouri game, even with thousands of fans at the Cotton Bowl the previous night.
* Folks wondered how Kansas’ RPI could have dropped from the low 30s to the mid-50s by beating Howard and North Dakota. Plenty about the RPI remains a mystery to me, but generally it rewards success against good schedules, and it’s why KU jumped from 55 to 35 by beating K-State, and the Wildcats didn’t drop much at all (33 from 28) with the loss.
* Solid victory by Iowa State over Texas, and Coach Fred Hoiberg (@ISUMayor32) tweeted this: “Great team victory tonight over Texas. We took a big step forward as a team tonight! Thanks Fans for bringing the magic!!”
J’Covan Brown, who entered the game leading the Big 12 in scoring, rolled his ankle and missed most of the second half. Texas had erased all of a 14-point halftime deficit, but without Brown, the Cyclones pulled away.
It was Iowa State’s first conference opening victory in five years.
* Assuming Baylor, Missouri, Kansas and Kansas State are the league’s top four teams, who is No. 5? By RPI, it’s Oklahoma (No. 41). But the Sooners were battered at Missouri on Tuesday. We’ll know more about Oklahoma when it plays host to Kansas on Saturday.